Following four weeks of world-class competition, the final of the Cartier Queen’s Cup took place on Sunday, June 12, with Dillon Bacon’s Great Oaks LL (James Beim, Dillon Bacon, Juan Martin Nero*, Cruz Heguy) colliding with Andrey Borodin’s* Park Place Vaara (Josh Hyde*, Juan Britos*, Hilario Ulloa*, Santos Merlos) on the famed Queen’s Ground at Guards Polo Club in Windsor, Berkshire, England. The final featured Park Place Vaara, in search of their organization’s first title after reaching the final in three of the past four seasons, against Great Oaks LL, looking to reclaim the title they won in 2020.
Great Oaks LL’s Cruz Heguy keeps the ball clear from Park Place Vaara’s Juan Britos.
Setting the tone early from the field, Park Place Vaara’s Ulloa launched the ball from 60 yards out to score just seconds into the game. This initiated a strong first chukker, where Park Place Vaara took a 3-0 lead. With time running out in the opening chukker, Heguy managed to spearhead a breakaway run to keep Great Oaks LL within reach, trailing 3-1.
Receiving a pass from Britos at midfield, Ulloa’s second goal pushed Park Place Vaara further ahead in the second chukker, but only penalty goals would account for the rest of the attacking play in the half. Britos and Heguy exchanged penalty conversions to leave Park Place Vaara ahead 5-3 at halftime.
Field goals continued to be difficult to come by, as neither team found the goal for the second consecutive chukker. Penalty tallies were added to the scoreboard for each team, but Park Place Vaara’s combined effort defensively allowed them to maintain their two-goal advantage moving into the final chukker, seemingly leaving them just minutes away from victory.
An early Penalty 2 conversion from Britos put Park Place Vaara ahead by three, bringing the Cartier Queen’s Cup title closer within reach. But Great Oaks LL put together an astonishing comeback effort in the final four minutes of the match. Two quick goals from Nero and a final passing play between Nero and Heguy left the two teams deadlocked, sending the now thrilling match into overtime. This goal marked Heguy’s 44th of the tournament, making him the third highest scorer of the Cartier Queen’s Cup behind only Pablo Mac Donough* (La Magdeleine) and Camilo Castagnola* (Dubai Polo Team).
Park Place Vaara’s Hilario Ulloa controls the ball alongside Great Oaks LL’s leading scorer Cruz Heguy.
Stunned by the late comeback from Great Oaks LL, Park Place Vaara found the first opportunity in overtime, receiving a Penalty 4. However, the ball was hit short, ensuring the nail-biting match continued. Hitting a long ball from midfield, Nero sent Beim racing towards goal under pressure from Britos. But remaining calm under duress, Beim won the ride-off, picked up the ball on the nearside and ran it through the goal to capture the epic win for Great Oaks LL, 9-8.
Laurent Feniou, Managing Director of Cartier UK, sponsors of this 22-goal tournament since 2012, presented the trophy to Great Oaks LL team owner and American Dillon Bacon. Juan Martin Nero, recognized for his brilliant performance in turning this match around, was named the Cartier Most Valuable Player, while Hilario Ulloa stepped forward to receive the Cartier Best Playing Pony prize for Lucinda Ambar. The pony had also been recognized with a similar award in Park Place Vaara’s semifinal match.
Laurent Feniou of Cartier and Brian Stein, Chairman of Guards Polo Club present the Cartier Queen’s Cup to Dillon Bacon.
Earlier in the day, the UAE Polo Team (Tomas Beresford, HH Sheika Maitha, Lucas Monteverde Jr, Bartolome Castagnola*) faced King Power (Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, James Harper, Nicolas Pieres*, Mackenzie Weisz*) on The Duke’s Ground to determine the winner of the subsidiary Cartier Trophy.
Initiating a dominant first half for King Power, back-to-back goals from Weisz and Pieres were briefly interrupted by a successful drive from UAE Polo Team’s Castagnola. However, the first half continued to belong to King Power, as Pieres took over play from the field, scoring four goals in the first three chukkers of play, including the only penalty conversion of the match. With Pieres leading a six-goal run, contributions from teammates Weisz and Harper saw King Power firmly in control of the match to take a commanding 8-1 lead moving into halftime.
Cartier Most Valuable Player King Power’s Mackenzie Weiz reaching for the hook on UAE Polo Team’s Lucas Monteverde.
Finding their first defensive success in the early stages of the second half, UAE Polo Team was able to hold King Power’s potent field attack to just one goal off the mallet of Pieres as they began to mount a comeback. An early goal in the fourth chukker from Beresford re-energized UAE Polo Team’s offensive drive, helping Castagnola score four second half goals on seven shot attempts. UAE Polo Team managed to bring themselves within two, but two crucial missed penalty opportunities and their substantial first half deficit was ultimately too much to overcome, as King Power held on to take the Cartier Trophy 9-7. Mackenzie Weisz was named the Cartier Most Valuable Player in the subsidiary final.
*GAUNTLET OF POLO Alumni
All photos courtesy of ©Images of Polo.